What one thing do you wish you had known about life when you were in your 20s? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
One time when I was twenty-five, I went shopping for an engagement ring for my girlfriend. We had been together for three years, and my dad kept asking when I would marry her. My friends kept asking. Her friends kept asking. Her dad kept asking her and she would tell me.
We were living together. And I liked her. Maybe I loved her.
But I started to shiver when I was looking at rings in the store. My friend who I was with took one look at me and quoted a lyric from an MC 900 Ft Jesus song: “Something’s gonna happen, and it’s probably not good.”
So I didn’t buy the ring. We didn’t get married. She moved out. We moved to different cities. I called her once a few years later, but now she’s not even on Facebook, and we haven’t talked since.
That sums up the twenties – everything you think is important and meaningful has absolutely no bearing on your future life.
I loved her. I had a job. I was writing novels. I had friends. I was a computer programmer.
Now, none of the above is true. (Oh, I have friends. Just different friends – 100% different).
And everything in my thirties – nothing is true anymore (except I have two kids still. Although now they are not babies. Now they are smarter than me).
I’m forty-eight now.
My most recent career change occurred when I was forty-seven. Before that, I started writing seriously (I wrote five very unserious books in my thirties) when I was forty-two.
In my twenties and thirties, my average weight was about 155 – 170. Now it’s 140. I write every day. I don’t obsess about money all day long. And I make bad decisions all day long – just like I did in my twenties.
The main skill I got between my twenties and now is that I bounce back from bad things faster.
I was very successful in my late twenties. And then a total failure after. Then very successful. And so on.
So that didn’t change. Only my ability to bounce back from really bad things. Horrible things. Things you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone, and yet they happen, in some form or other, to everyone.
So the only thing I can with full integrity say I wish I had known: nothing at all matters. Oh, and since nothing matters, once you realize that, you’ll start to bounce back faster.
And since nothing matters, you might as well be kind to people as much as possible. We can all laugh at the same joke at the end of this very long day.
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